Investigations and forensic architectural data to assist legal counsel in mediation, depositions and court proceedings
When a failed building envelope or system triggers claims and the prospect of legal action, objective forensic data—and the expertise to gather, analyze and present it—is essential. While our firm’s first mission is to participate in project planning/technical design and construction to prevent such issues, we also are called on frequently to investigate building failures related to other projects.
As forensic architects, we conduct detailed confidential investigations into water infiltration, problems with fire- and sound-rated assemblies, and other matters often cause-related to building envelopes. We are also experienced in reviewing construction documents and methodology of construction, and in assessing how architects and contractors meet standards of care. Whether our client is an architect or contractor acting to defend an unjust claim or the owner of a building in which failures have disrupted operations or will result in costly repairs, our experienced team can be relied on to verify and document existing conditions, correctly identify the root causes, and substantiate required remedial scopes and related costs.
We customize our analysis programs with in-house testing and non-intrusive destructive analysis to provide the substantiating evidence required for a successful trial or to promote favorable settlements. These testing programs usually eliminate the need for subsequent laboratory tests, destructive testing, and swing stage inspections. Our in-house cost-estimating services have been accepted in all jurisdictions where we have testified, eliminating the need for hiring additional consultants for this purpose.
Our architects all have experience in delivering expert testimony in settings that include mediations and depositions as well as trials. We reach for the highest standards to present lucid, objective evaluations of concepts that are typically very complex. Our investigations and meticulous development of expert evidence result in favorable out-of-court resolutions, often prompted by cost-effective creative remedies. On the rare occasions when disputes have gone to trial, jury verdicts have averaged over 95% of claim amounts in multi-million dollar awards.
Located in Bethesda, MD, the Bentley Place Condominium is a 20-building, 240-unit garden-apartment complex. The buildings experienced a number of problems, including interior soundproofing, structural design problems, exterior waterproofing, plumbing and HVAC systems. In support of a case filed by the Council of Unit owners, Davidson & Associates performed forensic investigations that discovered additional construction deficiencies including the roofing and unsafe balcony framing and rails. +
Robert Davidson was the lead expert witness for the condo association in this case, and testified at trial, explaining the deficiencies, standards of care and associated repair costs. Although the testimony extended for several days, Mr. Davidson was able to maintain the jury’s attention and lucidly convey the complex construction issues with the assistance of graphic exhibits and full-size samples of deteriorated construction materials that were removed from the project. This resulted in the largest settlement awarded to a condominium association for construction defects—an award that was appealed and affirmed for the condominium. The case is now used as an example of case law for construction warranties.
For more information, see: Circuit Court for Montgomery County Case # Civil 82497. IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 86, September Term, 1998, THE MILTON COMPANY et al. v. COUNCIL OF UNIT OWNERS OF BENTLEY PLACE CONDOMINIUM -
This 14-story multifamily residential tower also features an adjacent above-grade parking structure with connecting bridge. On behalf of the condominium association, the forensic architects of Davidson & Associates provided services for warranty analysis and negotiations with the developer. +
We identified key deficiencies including improper installation of the veneer masonry and improper window systems as well as numerous issues in the construction of the parking structure that would affect the structural stability of the connecting bridge. D&A’s comprehensive analysis found conditions overlooked by others that were the root causes of cracking, dislodged masonry veneer and water infiltration. The irrefutable documentation of these conditions and research substantiated noncompliance with building codes, industry standards and contractual obligations. These facts supported negotiations that resulted in the developer performing remedial work valued at an estimated $5.2 million in addition to a large cash settlement from the architect. -